Débat de l'âme et du corps

George Economou

See you? No. But I think you could go to gehenna in a hand-basket, sweetless, weightless piece, piece poised to disappear into thin air, nonetheless piece of me, marrow of me, the unmarried of married me, the inviolable invisible of the dregs of my more violating than violated decades, still questing––could you be called––spirit, breathless essence of my non-stop breathing, of breaths caressing limbs and syllables, of filaments finely spun to tap the innermost springs, or my mere barking unmixed with wine or water, pure defeated air, yet neither desperate nor despondent, our hopes and promises of savor and savior being practically epoxied to one another, nonetheless destined to part ways on the day of division, but not without a trace of heavier me to fuel your soft blast-off into the wild blue black wonder, my indelible twin, where I can imagine you confronted with the sum of my following my eyes and heart and the answer as to whether or not a pretty girl is like a heresy.

I couldn’t be sure my dianoia’d annoy ya’ because what you give, deeper and darker than words convey, says no, no saying, in its noiseless noetic, leaving me doubtless as to my doubtful state in the wake of your lilting silence, but no you make yourself known without fear that I would mistake you fauxnemically, that I would think I hear voices, for your silence grips me with my problem of having to hear you whom I do not hear because you do not stick it in my ear but in my heart to a T, and that’s why I can and do talk back this way because I have the stomach for it, and the guts, and the coraggio, if you will, against your so-called everlasting entirety, your irreducible transparency that stakes its claim to all that is my innermost as alma irredenta, yours, yours, and sheds the batter my running, stinking colors wrap you in that I could not do without, without offering even to meet me part way, no, you must close in the clear though I would offer to grow old as your twin in grisaille.

Yes, grayash under granite is my destiny while you go on souling for soul, for more of yourself, supposedly slip the weight, pull a Harry Houdini (forgive me) supposedly, but suppose part of you remains with me, the suppositious soul that belongs to and dissolves in me, or maybe all of you, which would make me your daimon, your singular fate, and would mean I’ve done all this on my own, and, just as I thought maybe it was you my mere mind that slumbered with me, you will take that small hop, just a six-foot drop, with me into the abyss, my impotent twin, but then I find myself singing of my beginning and end as you stand by grandly and spurn perishability, your hand, as if you have one, strumming strings of air out of me to play the song you allege is yours, and leave me, the so-called poorer pars pro your toto, to parse this maddening grammar of you and me, as if there were no possibility that the sum I am is all I am, first and last, and not groping for you in a state of perpetual desiderium.

The Poems & Fragments of Ananios of Kleitor (399 BC—?)
George Economou

1.                   ] below Kleitor,
speckled perch [
] in the yellow [
chirp and [                  ] enchantment.

2. Let go of me my song
and swoop into the hearts
of men Love has singed
and darkened their brightest day.

Let go of me my song
and hover between the faces
[                                     ]
your shadows forming letters.

Return to me my song
and [                  
                   ] sustain
my famished [

3. I will give as good [
by Aphrodite [                  
Either way [                  
and kiss behind the [
Again [                  
till it melts [                  
] turn this [                  
And again [                  
your mouth [                  
Love’s mother [                  
On our knees [                                    
breathing each [                  

4. She was so black
I called her crow.
She called me back
and called and called
and called. I stopped.

5. barren [
                   ] the beach at Kos [
Phorkys [
                   ] such bathing.

6. of Love’s happy captives,
[ ]
] write satisfaction
in my heart to [
] desires.

7. To you, Aphaia, I cry, I [
] Hear,
O, hear me now that [
Can it be the invisible [

8. As the shepherd tilts his ear into the wind
to catch the lost lamb’s bleating, so [

9.                                     ] remember
to honor Athena [
] started back in surprise [
] breath taking.
[ ] like [Eu]ryale’s
echoing wail [
] favorite flute-girl
for melodies Apollo heard the satyr make.

10. Yet the wild bull may be led to sacrifice
if the priestess can tie a fig branch round his neck.

11. Dance through the forest [ ] deer season (cakes?)[ Artem]is shouts and shoots [
as the moon [                  ] on flying feet [
                                                      ] the precipice
] fisherman’s net [ ] my heart, my love [

12. ] a pro from Corinth,
a honey-voiced [
who rides me like a pony [
Aphrodite the Dark [
on her billy-goat [
A philosopher would say it’s [                   ] h?uma?n.
13. Sweet dreams [
                   ] sunbeams [
                                     ] of me.

14. ] enough time [

15. [Th]ucydides measures the Attic war’s
first eight-and-a-half years by the tenure
as priestess at Argos’ temple of He[ra
of Ch]rysis, who fell asleep and let it
catch fire, then awoke and fled in the night.
She was old, and you, much less than half her age,
what’s your excuse, Pyrrha, for the havoc
you have made of my life in just three months?

16. Pyrrha, perhaps you’d be
[ ]
if this were the old me
instead of the old me.

17. Of the three girls I loved this year,
I cut off the third, vain little Xantho,
who refused to play the flute for me
because it would distort her face,
and for that severance I paid dearly.
Now when I see her in the street,
she grimaces and hisses, even spits
my way and dooms me by this music
to look away from her wild eyes
and bit by bit my heart to turn to stone.

18. Melampous overheard the worms overhead                  
19. ] the suitors, loud and [
] playing pebbles [
                  ] another man’s [
] luck [

20. Quick, savor what the gods give you.
There’s something behind you, baring its teeth.

21. black broth they drink in Sparta

22. while making love we passed an olive

23. the thrill is

24. Aphrodite, the shapely, fills me
25. lips that cry for wine

26. in the dark, her castanets

27. the most beautiful time

28. Chrysosastros took a flop
last night as he left the brothel.
Pity for him blows in me
as on a small flute.

29a. where I intend to make out like a Corinthian

29b. after she plays the flute for me, I’ll devour my Anchovy

30. Laïs tells why she rolled with you for free:
Can a dog be expected to pay rent?

31. ] feeble strand [
] oh [
] mark of [
] contrivance
] yawning [
] shame on your Schadenfreude.

32. he’ll go since what is fated cannot be fled

33. old friend, I’ll bring a cabbage for your pot
34. ] daughter(s?) [
] Proitos (Proteus?) [
] savior [

35. ] astonishing in sunlight [
] the price of Eros [
] then she gave it [

36. ] outstanding, upstanding breasts [

37. ]
] cows no more
] the waters [

38. [ ]
divine figs for all [
[                   ] aftertaste of sweet almonds [
] back and forth [
] far from the seaside[ ] star gazing and crazy.

39. Melite’s can be played like Hermes’ lyre,
up front and down back with equal sweetness.

40. [                  ] of all my words [
[ ] O Aphrodite [
if I could touch [
“despair” carved in the rock face by the Styx
still it comes [ ] after Persephone’s
summer with Hades and [

41. ] awe [
] none [
] oh, yes [

“Ananios of Kleitor: Poems & Fragments and their Reception from Antiquity to the Present, Collected and Translated by George Economou” presents to the stage of world literature an invented ancient Greek poet, his extant work, and the individuals who participated in its reception and preservation. It is a one-of-a-kind book, sort of a Menippean satire made up of verse and prose and a diversity of genres, ranging from the epistolary novel to scholarly annotations and an Index Nominum. While the major characters, the poet and his scholars and commentators, are purely fictitious, they exist in a thoroughly historicized context made up of real-life figures and events.

The work begins with an Introduction by my translator persona, who bears my name and some of my quirks but is no more my double than Chaucer the pilgrim is Chaucer the maker’s. The forty-one poems and fragments of Ananios, which I composed directly in the forms they have taken, introduce the poet. These poems are followed by additional passages from Ananios in a section that represents the poet’s reception from antiquity to the present, a process full of ironic turns and directions, especially as it reaches the twentieth-century.

Next comes a section of Correspondences in which the liberation and abduction of Ananios is recorded in the form of an epistolary novel that widens and complicates, in the course of its effort to clarify, the story of the poet, his poems, and their place in literature. The long section of Endnotes allows the translator persona to enter the fray with an uninhibited display of learning, pedantry, opinions, and passion for his work. The final section, the Index Nominum, consists of several biographical sketches of the principal figures in the poet’s reception, whose contents also tie up the narrative lines and themes that have been threaded throughout the work.

– G. E.